Black & Decker

The Black & Decker Company was founded in 1910 by S. Duncan Black and Alonzo G. Decker as a small machine shop in Baltimore, Maryland. They produced their first electric drill in 1915, followed by patented pistol grip and trigger switch. These innovations became standards within the electrical tool industry.

The company has developed over the post-1945 period to become a multinational corporation manufacturing power tools, domestic appliances, hardware, and building products. It has a number of subsidiaries making Emhart fastenings, DeWalt industrial tools, Kwikset home security, and Price Pfister plumbing products. Black & Decker acquired the electrical domestic appliances section of the U.S. General Electric Company in 1984. It is the world’s largest producer of power tools and residential security systems and the third largest faucet manufacturer in the United States. Black & Decker products are produced in fourteen countries and marketed in over a hundred. It has a large power tool plant at Spennymoor within the United Kingdom. It also produced tools for the NASA space program in the 1960s and 1970s.

The company has continued to innovate in product development and can claim to have introduced genuinely new tools and appliances. Most notable are the DustBuster vacuum cleaner of 1979. This small rechargeable cordless hand-held cleaner was a logical development of the older Hoover Dustette. It remains popular for cleaning up small areas and spilt crumbs. Another innovation is the Workmate designed by English engineer Ron Hickman in 1968. Black & Decker was not convinced that the Workmate would be successful and had initially refused it. However, Black & Decker introduced it in the United Kingdom in 1972 and in 1975 in the United States. The Mouse (1998) is a small hand-held sander and polishing tool that produces 11,000 orbits a minute. It comes with twenty-three accessories.

More recently the corporation has invested in more sustainable methods of production using recyclable coppers and irons in its motors and identifiable plastics for future recycling. In the United States, it has a national disposition center in Nashville, established to deal with damaged or worn-out products.